China's basic pension payment will reach 400 billion yuan (US$50 billion) in 2005, said Liu Yongfu, vice minister of Ministry of Labor and Social Security, on Thursday.
The amount of basic pension was only 151.2 billion yuan (US$18.7 billion), Liu said at a press conference hosted by the Information Office of the State Council.
Since 1998, the labor and social security administrative departments at various levels have redoubled efforts to ensure the timely and full payment of pension to retirees," Liu added.
The pension arrears decreased from 600 million yuan (US$74.3 million) a month in 1998 to 300 million yuan in 1999, and 100 million yuan in 2000. There were 132 million yuan arrears occurred in some localities in 2003, he said.
In recent years, there was no more new pension arrears, he stressed.
At the same time, localities were active in finding solutions to pay out the arrears occurred in the past, he said.
Liu said the coverage of social insurance has been extended to enterprises of diversified ownership while the number of insured has been on rise. The number of insured increased from 112 million in 1998 to 173 million in 2005.
Among all the insured, the number of individual businessmen and persons in the form of flexible employment grew from 5.35 million to 19.3 million, Liu said.
The net annual increase of retirees in recent years reached 3 million and an increasing number of retirees have benefited from the basic pension scheme. In 2005 the number of pensioners amounts to 43.5 million, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2005)